Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cycling Down Memory Lane

Kembara Blogger Hariri @ Lenggong on Saturday 13 March 2010.
I had never thought that at this age and time I would be doing this.

It is a nostalgic expedition - going through places that used to be our playgrounds, this time on bicycle and that house in the background and its compound were the ultimate playgrounds for the Hariris.
Our starting point was at our old house at Pokok Jerai near Simpang Labit.

Except for yours truly, the others are reasonably fit. They have been cycling for months already. I, on the other hand, have not touched the bicycle for more than a year now and that bicycle had sat in my house with two flat tyres until 3 days before the expedition.

To make matter worse, I have also not jogged for more than a month now.

To be honest, I am not much of a cyclist. Yes, I did my tour of Ipoh circa 1983/84 and when they were young, cycling was something I would do in the afternoon with the kids, but any day I would prefer jogging (on a treadmill) as I would not have to leave my home and not worry having to get someone to rescue me should I tire myself out.

So when I was asked to join, I said yes, but deep within me I was not too keen. The only reason I said yes was because of the location.

To me, it would be like cycling down memory lane and it was not something I would want to miss out.

We left Pokok Jerai at 8 am and reached Labit by 8.30 am, passing through Bukit Raja, which I had mentioned in my fotopages (it has an 'rumah tinggal' or 'rumah berhantu' right in the middle of the jungle in the hill), the beautiful paddy fields of Kg Teluk Batu (which I used to cycled across going to the other side of Lenggong main road) and off to Labit.

It took us less than 30 mins of leisure cycling to reach the river bank of Sg Perak at Labit.
And then I saw this beautiful scene. To me, it was as close as one can get to a picture-postcard scenery. I was so overtaken by the scene to be honest and thought that it was so tranquil and peaceful that I can sit here for hours and enjoy this scene. I am so glad to have lived in some of the most beautiful places in Malaysia.

Mind you the pic was unedited, so you can imagine the real thing from the picture above.

Sometimes I do wonder why do I bother going through these places as they bring back memories - sweet memories, of the good old days as it makes me yearn for the years gone by. Now if only someone had unlock the secrets of time travel...

And no, this was not the location we had our swim like in the previous posting. I am sure we had a more strategic location for our swim then, somewhere between Labit and Temelong.

Arif, Akmal and I were last here in 1999 when we dropped by on our way home from KB. At that time, there was still a boat service connecting Labit and Chepor. Now with two bridges on either side, there was no need for such service anymore.

From Labit, we had to cross the river using a boat. Of course it took 3 trips to transport us all including 3 bikes across the river. It was an uneventful crossing, just the way I like them.

As they are no longer serviced by boat, it was lucky for us that Latif knew who to contact for the boat ride.

YOu can see Chepor on the other side of the river in the above picture.

We were told that during those days, the Cheporians would have to cross over using boat if they want to have their teh tarik and the only location they could have teh tarik was in Lenggong town.

Nowadays, you would find so many gerais and warungs throughout the kampungs and they have no need to battle their way for their favourite drink.
The view right from the midpoint of the Perak River. The mighty river was tamed by Lokman and I in 1972.
As we approach Chepor...

From here on onwards, we had to find our way through the villages along the Perak River. We had though that we would be cycling through lanes along the River but it was not that straight forward. We had to find our way to Chepor, Pulau Cheri, Luat and Kampung Beng.
A kilometer inside the off road, we stopped to catch our breath due to the steep hill and to pressurize the tyre a bit more for the tandem bike.

However, one thing led to another, and we ended up having to replace two tubes for the tandem. Well, I didn't do anything at all. Just let the pro do the job here and luckily for me, well, my bike behaved like an old pro itself.

A cheap bike I must admit, but one that did not give me any trouble during the expedition, except that the owner is an old man who has difficulty moving his muscles (for long period) to power the bike.

That's the only problem, but that's not the bike's problem though. ;-)

After 4 km riding off road, we found our way to Pulau Cheri with its tarred road. It was a bit of a relief as eventhough this blogger had bought a spare tube, he left it inside the car he left behind at Pokok Jerai. So the spare tube would be useless in the event it was needed.

Some much for planning or in my case, non planning actually.

And then we went to Surau Pulau Cheri.
The compound of the Surau Pulai Cheri is immaculate. It also offers a very good view of Bukit Bunuh and the Sg Perak. The surau however was a non-descript wooden building.

But it was a very clean one.

The road leading to the Surau with a view. The hill on the right is Bukit Bunuh.

How did the hill get its name? Legend has it that there used to live a poor couple. One day the husband dreamt that in order to be rich, he would have to kill his wife. He related it to his wife and his wife agreed to be killed so that his husband would be rich and respected by the kampung folks.

Would you believe that? It is unthinkable nowadays, right? Then again, may be not. People do worst things than this, including murdering one's wife or children.

Herein lies disagreement on the finality of the story.

One school of thought said that while the wife was bathing in sintuk limau before being killed, there was this huge tempayan floating in the rives that contained riches that would last several general generation and they lived happily ever after.

Another school of thought said that after his wife was killed, he did not find any hidden treasure anywhere and were a broken man even worst than his fate before.

OK, it was just a legend recorded in the Archaeological Museum of Lenggong!
Pulau Cheri is central to our memory because of this house. Bapak used to 'mengaji' and 'berguru' with Lebai Johan on the weekends, and he would take me and my bro along and spent the night at this house.

There are many amazing stories about Lebai Johan and I guess Lokman can probably tell many of it. You can also read a bit on my entry on the 1969 riot to know about the background.

However during those days, the journey from Kota Tampan from the other side of the river can be quite tiring and taxing to kids like us. I think the walking distance could be more than 3-4 km, I am not sure. It seems short enough for us on bikes in 2010. It is this journey that we were trying to replicate with this expedition albeit being in reverse direction.

More stories can be found at latif's blog here.

However, I do wonder about Pulau Cheri. Isn't it a misnomer and how did it get its name in the first place? I had never questioned that name to be honest when I was a kid, and the area seems too big to be an island, and it certainly is not an island.

We then visited Pak Cik Hassan but I guess you can read more of that in Latif's blog.

Then we hit the Kota Tampan bridge which was not there during the 70s and we had to call for our sampan to take us across the river.
This is view from the Kota Tampan bridge in the direction of Kuala Kangsar. Right at the end of the river in the pic (on the right), we would have to call for the sampan to take us to the other side and then we would begin the 4-5 km walk. May be less, but the walk during those days is more difficult than currently as it was only a lane fit for a bicycle.

But may be then it was shadier than today.
Latif, Izzuddin and Rasi on the bridge. By this time, it is already noon and the sun is shining hard upon us that day.
Still the view from the Bridge (anyone remember Kim Wilde's song View from A Bridge? It is such a nice song.) This time towards the direction of Lenggong.
As were were cycling toward our (sampan) landing place in the 70s, we saw this nice (small) lake, and with Latif's tandem bike giving him problem that would require them to go to a mechanic, I took the opportunity to sit and enjoy this precious lull moment in my life.

Absorbing all that are before me.

Aah, relaxing under the shade and cooled by this small lake.

However, that was the end of the shady road for us. No more kampung road after this. Back to the main road and with the gradient and sun conspiring against us, we had to walk our way up this hill, with yours truly always the last person.
This was Latif and Izzudin walking their bike up the hill with yours truly way behind them. Rasi was nowhere to be seen as he was too fast for us.

No trees this time around to protect us against the harsh mid-day sun.

At times, along the way, one would think that it was snowing in Lenggong. One would find quite a bit of Pokok Kekabu along the way and I guess the whites of 'kekabu' on the roads and road shoulder as if it had been snowing. Of course the weather would not have allowed such freak of nature to occur.

I was wishing for it though.

We did go to Lubuk Kawah where we thought the rumah rakit that we used to frequent was. But by then, I was too tired and decided against going anywhere that would take me further away from Lenggong town.

After resting, we headed back to Lenggong.
As we cycled from Kota Tampan heading to Lenggong, we passed by Masjid Kampung Banggol Belimbing. It was quite a mosque and a landmark for us during those day. I thought it is a nice small mosque, well kept and maintained. The fact that Cikgu Ainon lives nearby would make it even more significant to us. When we saw the mosque on our way back from Taiping or Kuala Kangsar, one would immediately know that Lenggong is only a short-distance away.
From Banggol Belimbing, and Cha'in, I knew Lenggong is within touching distance. But we still have to conquer the inclined road leading to the town as shown in the pix taken by Latif/Izzuddin of yours truly pedaling hard.

It was nearly 2 pm, and at that point I was only thinking of the finishing line. "Just a little bit more," I was saying to myself, "once you reach the top, it would be downhill from there and you are home free."

All I can do then was lower my gaze, concentrate on telling my muscles to move my legs in a circular movement to pedal the bicycle forward.

Despite the aches.
Yes, once we reached the top, what a view it was, and it was all downhill from here. No need to cycle and just let gravity pulls you through pekan Lenggong and of course to Din's restaurant.

To me, it was a big relief especially since we didn't stop since Cha'in and the inclination of the road across SMDA, while it was nothing on a normal day, especially if one were driving, it was quite taxing for us as we were on our last leg of the expedition.
At last, meals and chat time at Din's Restaurant - Din was a classmate from my primary schooldays in Lenggong. We were able to sit and enjoy this moment, as we are practically done with the Kembara even if we are not at the starting point. And the remnant of the dishes were good actually.

All in all, we covered about 30 km that day and for practical purpose we completed the expedition by 2 pm, so it took us 6 hours or so to do so. It was not meant as a race against time. It was purposely a leisure cycle; we took the time to smell the roses, so to speak.

And the roses are sweet, I must say.

We managed to roll back the years in six hours.


Obviously I am not going to cover all angles. So you can read more at Latiff's I Spread My Wing blog. The entry is here.

More pictures can be found at my fotopages.
This is the map of Bukit Bunuh (right in the middle of the map). We were traversing along the Perak river on Eastern bank. It give some perspective of the location we were at during the expedition.


  1. http://www.flickr.com/photos/skinifet/July 8, 2010 at 11:06 PM

    terkedu nampak rumah lebai johan dlm gambar tu....sy membesar di rumah tu..yeah....used to b my playground!!!..terlalu banyak nostalgia di rumah tu...alfatihah utk wah & pah

    cucu lebai johan

  2. Cucu Lebai Johan, welcome to the blog. Kami dulu sering kesana sehingga pertengahan 70an, mungkin saudara/i belum ada ketika itu. Sayang rumah itu ditinggalkan saja. Tapi nampak masih kukuh. Sedangkan kami yang cuma bertandang hujung minggu pun masih ingat, inikan pula penghuninya.

  3. salam aidilfitri

    hmmmm....baru jengah ke sini balik!..sy tinggal dsana dr thn '72, sampai nak masuk sekolah baru balik Penang, (ada 2 org cucu perempuan yg tinggal dgn wan(lebai johan) & opah (mekteh)masa tu...dah lama...tulah..sayang umah tu.kami (cucu2 nye) ada gak pegi lawat rumah tu tp dah tak bole masuk pon...mmg kalau ada daya nak p balik ke situ.....rindu!

    cucu lebai johan